Earth Science

Earth Science Earth Science (B.S.) Degree Environmental Geosciences Concentration On-Campus

About Environmental Geosciences

Become a steward and manager of our planet’s resources.

Geoscientists gather and interpret data about the Earth and other planets to help us better understand our own planet and improve the quality of human life. You can prepare for this field at California University of Pennsylvania with the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Earth Science, with a concentration in Environmental Geosciences.

The focus of the environmental geosciences program is to develop professional environmental scientists and geoscientists for careers in all facets of resource management, environmental protection and sustainable development. You will take classes focused on water and land resources and environmental stewardship. You’ll also explore human demands on mineral and energy resources, as well as land development, that historically have presented challenges to the health and quality of habitats and natural systems.

Geoscientists work in a variety of fields, from environmental consulting and regulatory agencies to compliance programs at energy firms. Graduates of the environmental geosciences program have found jobs in soil- and water-quality testing, stream restoration, contaminant characterization and remediation, and air-quality assessment. With its roots in geology, the environmental geosciences program benefits from the strength of the geology curriculum offerings and rigor, with a multidisciplinary appeal. 

Prepare for a career in energy, resource and environmental sectors.   

Graduates of geoscience programs find work as environmental geologists, hydrologists, geographic information systems (GIS) analysts, remote sensing specialists, petroleum geologists and educators. Geoscientists identify safe places to dispose of waste, study factors that affect water quality, run computer-based analyses of landscapes and habitats, and discover new mineral resources.

This is an excellent time to explore a career in geoscience. Opportunities for geologists and geoscientists are expanding quickly due to rising concerns about environmental degradation and diversifying energy demands.

Full-time students usually complete the program in four years, and part-time students take five to six years to complete the degree.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS: ENVIRONMENTAL GEOSCIENCES

Professional opportunities.  

The geology and geosciences program has gone through a significant evolution, enhancing its traditional curriculum and classroom style with a greater focus on career development. This shift has elevated the reputation of Cal U’s program throughout southwestern Pennsylvania because of the opportunities it offers for student research and field experiences. The applied nature of classes opens many doors for Cal U students, as demonstrated by strong employment trends for our graduates. Cal U students who go on to graduate school also report they are well-prepared to handle the rigors of graduate work. The geology and Earth sciences program is well-integrated with the Pittsburgh Geological Society, enabling students to cultivate networking and career connection opportunities. Cal U also has active chapters for the Association for Environmental and Engineering Geologists, and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

Solid foundation. 

Our program has a distinct focus on professional development and an emphasis on foundational skills that is woven throughout the curriculum. Geology/geosciences at Cal U is the only program in the region with a dedicated professional development course, specific to the geoscience disciplines and career paths. The course relies on a strategy of student development and progress-checking that includes continued assessment of growth in technical writing, critical reading and quantitative skills. This strategy is based on input from industry professionals, alumni and hiring managers that has identified common strengths and weaknesses in recent graduates from across our region. By identifying and addressing weaknesses and staying true to a traditional environmental geologic curriculum, Cal U students have been successful in developing compelling resumes and demonstrating the skills necessary for a lifetime of career growth.

Learn more about applying

19:1 
Student-to-faculty ratio at Cal U.
120 
Credit hours for the bachelor’s degree in environmental geoscience can be completed in four years.
Degree icon.

Degree Benefits

Environmental geoscience students can choose from a variety of research opportunities. All of the student research within the geology program is done under faculty supervision. Geoscience students who choose to conduct independent or small-group research are generally given significant latitude to develop and proceed through their research with a faculty member acting as a research adviser and offering editorial support. Faculty instill a sense of initiative and emphasize the importance of time management, persistence and a dependence on existing literature to prepare students for graduate school. Students can choose to do research for credit or no credit.  Past students have completed projects on such topics as soil permeability and adsorption, structural orientation of joints in a local sandstone, abandoned mine impacts to streams, and precipitation influence on shallow groundwater. Although research is not explicitly required, a field experience course is required with multiple options for completion. In addition to research or internships, students can choose to participate in our summer field program, traveling to different regions of the United States to learn important field skills and see the diversity of the U.S. geologic landscape.

 
Cap icon.

Graduate Outcomes

Placement after graduation has been at or near 100% for the past several semesters, including students who successfully move on to graduate school. The job outlook for geologists and environmental geoscientists is positive. The projection for geoscience-related employment from the American Geoscientists Institute is a growth rate of about 14% through 2022. There is a projected shortage of geoscientists as the “baby boom” generation moves into retirement along with the large wave of geologists who entered the workforce in response to the energy crisis of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Some employers of our recent graduates include Moody’s and Associates Inc., GAI Consultants Inc., MarkWest Energy, and ARM Group Inc. Typical entry-level positions include geologist, environmental field technician, geology technician, project specialist and environmental specialist. Cal U graduates have gone to graduate schools including West Virginia University, Idaho State University, University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, University of Akron, Kent University, University of Houston, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, and University of Queensland, Australia.

 
Environmental Geosciences (B.S.)
Cal U student collects a rock sample.

Vital Resources

Cal U’s geology and Earth science program features several lab spaces that are effective active learning environments for students. The program has a large collection of rocks, minerals and fossils. The computer lab offers multiple suites of cutting-edge, geology-specific software; students are exposed to computational modeling, data analysis and three-dimensional visual software that many students don’t see until their first job. A rock preparation lab allows students to cut and prepare rocks for optical analyses in the optical mineralogy/geochemistry lab. The wet lab facility has numerous meters for water quality testing and two research-grade flow meters for measuring streams in the area for classes and research. 

Ariel view of a rain forest

Relevant Issues

With a focus on practical solutions to real-world environmental challenges, Cal U students complete coursework with relevant local and regional issues in mind. Resource demands are key aspects of our environmental coursework, leading students to become future leaders for innovation and problem-solving. Students take courses such as Earth Resources and Soils to develop a basic understanding of land use and impacts. The program also focuses on hydrology and water resources, a critical workforce avenue for the present and future. We offer multiple courses, both required and elective, for establishing industry-specific technologic literacy, including GIS and Computer Applications in Earth Sciences. Students also may choose to take courses related to environmental and geological hazard assessment and mitigation. A strength of our course offerings is an emphasis on field work and data collection, encouraging students to develop their analytical skills. 

The SAI Framhouse is home to ICES.

Specialized Training

Cal U’s own SAI Farm facility includes several assets important to the geology and Earth science program. In addition to the natural setting and local streams bisecting the property, the Pittsburgh Geological Society has drilled nine groundwater wells on the property.  These wells are available for class activities and also have provided an opportunity for student research. A significant highlight are geology field courses in the summer. Each year, students and faculty travel to distant parts of the country to conduct regional surveys of the geology that makes that area unique. Students engage in hands-on activities, especially involving geologic mapping, to get a sense of how landscapes, geologic structure and climate are interdependent. Students rave about these experiences and often say how much impact they have on shaping their careers. 

Course Examples
  • Earth Resources
  • Hydrology
  • Groundwater Hydrology
  • Geochemistry
  • Geophysics
  • Watershed Evaluation and Management
  • Advanced Environmental Geology
  • Computer Applications in Earth Sciences
  • Professional Development for Geoscientists

 

View full course sequence

Earth Science Faculty

Dr. Kyle C. Fredrick
Professor

fredrick@calu.edu

View profile
Dr. Daniel Harris
Assistant Professor

Harris_D@calu.edu

View profile